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THE OFFICE OF THE SPIRIT TO GLORIFY CHRIST.
John xvi. 14. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
MANY imagine that the doctrine of the Divinity of Christ is founded on some few passages only of Holy Writ, on passages too which may possibly be of doubtful interpretation. But the truth is, that that doctrine pervades the whole New Testament; so that scarcely any part of it can be fairly explained except on the hypothesis, that Christ is God. Take for instance the passage before us. Our blessed Saviour told his Disciples that he would "send to them the Comforter, even the Spirit of Truth, who should guide them into all truth, and shew them things to come." But is he a man, or a mere created being, that arrogates to himself this power? Of that Spirit he proceeds to say, "He shall glorify me." What language is this? Does a creature say, he will send the Spirit of the living God to glorify him? That God should send a creature for the advancement of his own glory, is intelligible enough but that a creature should send God for the advancement of his glory, is what no rational being would for a moment admit. But further; our Saviour adds, " He shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you." What! Has a creature any thing that he can call his own; and which is of so mysterious a nature, that it cannot be known, except God himself shall make it the subject of a special revelation? And has he such an exclusive propriety in that thing, that it must be acknowledged to be his, at the very time that God is taking of it in order to shew it unto men? This was so strong an assertion of his Godhead, that the Disciples themselves appear to have been staggered at it; on which account our Lord proceeded to vindicate and confirm the expression he had used: "All that the Father hath, is mine: therefore said I that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you"."
The whole declaration, if viewed in this light only, is of infinite importance: but, without insisting on this doctrine, which only incidentally arises out of the text, we shall turn our attention to the doctrines more directly contained in it; and shall shew you, I. The office of the Spirit
The whole of our Saviour's life was a state of humiliation the establishing of his proper character was committed to the third Person in the ever-blessed Trinity, who was in due time to come down from heaven for the express purpose of glorifying Christ. In what way he was to glorify Christ, is specified in the text; he was to take, as it were, all the excellencies of Christ, and to display them before the eyes of all his people. Among these excellencies we will mention a few, which are deserving of more especial notice :
1. The virtue of his sacrifice
[Man, as soon as he begins to be truly "convinced of sin," is apt to doubt whether his iniquities be not too great to be forgiven. But the Holy Spirit discovers to him from the word, that the death of Christ was a propitiation, not for the sins of a few only, but for the sins of the whole world; that "his blood has an efficacy to cleanse from all sin;" and that all who believe in him "shall be justified from all things," even from "sins of a scarlet or crimson dye." How glorious does Christ then appear in the sinner's eyes!]
2. The prevalence of his intercession
[After a person has believed in Christ, he still is renewed only in part; "the flesh still lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, so that he cannot do the things. that he would." Hence he is sometimes led to fear that God will cast him off, and be no more entreated by him. Then the Holy Spirit shews him that Christ is "his Advocate with the Father," and that he "ever liveth in heaven on purpose to make intercession for him." He convinces him that Christ can never intercede in vain, for that "him the Father heareth always;" and that consequently the backslider, as well as the newly-awakened sinner, shall be saved to the uttermost, if only he look to Christ as his all-prevailing Advocate and Mediator. Thus the Spirit still further endears the Saviour to the believing soul.]
3. The sufficiency of his grace
[Conflicts innumerable both with sin and Satan will still remain, even such conflicts as may bring the believer sometimes to the borders of despair. But then the Spirit again proceeds in his work of glorifying Christ: he shews the soul, that there is, by the Father's own appointment, an inexhaustible fulness of grace treasured up in Christ, out of which his people shall receive all the grace that they shall stand in need of and that, whatever their conflicts or temptations may be, his grace shall be sufficient for them. How precious does Christ then become, when the believer, after crying, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me?" is enabled to add, "I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lords:" "In the Lord have I righteousness and strength"!"]
4. The extent of his love
[Of this no finite being can form any adequate idea; much less can the language of mortality express it. But in some degree it is the privilege of "all saints to have" it "revealed to them by the Spirit." The times and seasons, as well as the manner and degree, of making this revelation to the soul, are altogether ordered by that Spirit "who divideth to every man severally as he will." Generally it is in some season of trial or affliction, and by means either of some remarkable providence, or of the written word, that he thus glorifies Christ: but, O! when he does take of the love of Christ, and discover unto men "its length and breadth and depth and height, what joy and transport does he impart! truly it is "a joy that is unspeakable and glorified;" a very heaven upon earth. Such manifestations of the Saviour's glory cannot be made to the world, because the world has no dispositions suited to them: but to the believer they are made; and they produce in him a determination of heart to consecrate himself wholly and for ever to the Lord.]
5. The greatness of his salvation—
[Salvation, when first embraced, is regarded almost exclusively as a deliverance from everlasting punishment. But when the Spirit of God brings it more fully to our view, how amazing does it appear: and how glorious does that Saviour appear who has obtained it for us! The renovation of the soul after the Divine image, and the investing of it with all the glory and felicity of heaven, a glory inconceivable, a felicity everlasting; truly salvation, in this view of it, overwhelms the soul with wonder, and prepares it to do and suffer whatever can be done or suffered, for the ultimate enjoyment of it.]
d Col. ii. 9.
e John i. 16.
f 2 Cor. xii. 9.
Such being the office of the Spirit, let us consider, II. Our duty arising from it—
We have an office similar in some respects to that which is sustained by the Spirit himself: we are all in our place and station to glorify Christ, and to take of the things that are his, and shew them unto men. This is our DUTY,
1. As Ministers
[Our Lord particularly marks this connexion between the office of the Holy Spirit, and that which his Disciples were to execute in the world. They were sent forth, as all other` ministers are, to testify of Christ, and to exalt him in the eyes of men. At this day, no less than in the apostolic age, is this the duty of those who are his ambassadors to a guilty world: we are to speak of Christ, to set forth the fulness and excellency of his salvation, and to commend him to the love of all around us. Counting all things but dung for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ ourselves, we should labour day and night to impart it unto others. How earnest the Apostles were in this blessed work, may be seen from their first addresses to the unbelieving Jews': and we in like manner should "contend earnestly for the faith," and determine to know nothing among our people but Jesus Christ and him crucified. The treasure of divine knowledge is put into us, as earthen vessels, for this purpose; and "God has shined into our hearts for this very end, that we may give unto all around us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christm." What a glorious office is this! O that every minister bore it fully in mind: and that all who profess to execute it, might execute it with their whole hearts, and "with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven!"]
2. As private Christians
[Our Lord assigns the same office to all his people; "All mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them"." All indeed are not called upon to exert themselves as ministers: but all are to glorify Christ by a holy conversation, and are to take of his virtues and his graces, and to exhibit them to the world. This is one end of their calling, namely, "to shew forth the virtues of him that hath called them out of darkness into his marvellous light." All are to "shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life"
k John xv. 26, 27.
m 2 Cor. iv. 6, 7.
1 Acts ii. 32-36. and iv. 10-12.
n John xvii. 10.
1 Pet. ii. 9. The marginal reading.
in their own conduct, so that all may read it, yea, may be compelled to read it, as transcribed in their lives. What an exalted office is this for every private Christian! O that all might be ambitious to execute it aright! for Christ himself has said, "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye may bring forth much fruit; so shall ye be my Disciples."]
P Phil. ii. 15, 16.
9 John xv. 8.
THE BENEFIT OF PRAYER.
John xvi. 24. Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.
THIS world is justly characterized as a vale of tears. Even they who experience the most happiness, find many interruptions of it: nor is there any way of securing permanent tranquillity, but by waiting upon God in prayer.
The Disciples were sorrowful on account of the approaching departure of their Lord, with whom they had hitherto enjoyed the most familiar fellowship. Our Lord tells them, that though they would no longer be able to inquire of him, yet, if they would ask of the Father in his name, he would grant them whatsoever they should need; and that the answers which they should receive to their prayers would abundantly overbalance the loss of their present privileges, and fill them with unutterable joy.
In the direction given them, we may notice,
I. Our duty
It is comprised in one word, "Ask." Now this is, 1. An easy duty—
[We do not mean that it is always easy to pray, (for there is nothing more difficult when the heart is indisposed for that exercise;) but that is the easiest condition that could possibly be imposedand that, when the heart is in a proper frame, prayer is as easy to the soul, as breathing is to the body: it is the first, and most natural, effort of a living soul: "Behold, he prayeth!"]
b ver. 23. ἐρωτήσετε.
ver. 23. αἰτήσητε.
c Acts ix. 11.